Students in Michele Cauley’s Social Media Marketing class learned the many benefits of social media beyond updating their Facebook status or sharing a friend’s Instagram story.

Students present social media plan for alumni association

Marketing students present their social media plan for the Clemson Alumni Association.
Image Credit: College of Business

Social Media Marketing (3220) provided students an introspective view of how they brand themselves on social media and gave them hands-on experience in creating and executing a business client’s marketing plan through social media channels.

“This deep dive into social media exposed students to the many platforms available to businesses in advancing their brands,” said Cauley, a professor of practice in the College of Business’ Department of Marketing. “But students were also required to take an introspective look at how they brand themselves on their own social media platforms. A personal audit is a good exercise for students to see if they’re communicating a professional image of themselves.”

Students also teamed up to educate their fellow classmates on eight of the most commonly used social media platforms that individuals and businesses use today.

“One of the first assignments was for teams of students to teach the rest of the class about a particular social media platform,” Cauley said. “The project involved research on their specific platform and how marketers are successfully using those platforms to reach targeted audiences. As part of their presentation, teams had to produce an Adobe Rush video on their assigned platform.”

The experiential portion of the class involved 16 area businesses, campus organizations and non-profits visiting with teams of students to review their social media strategies. The students benefited from a grant allocation of $60 per team provided by the Dean’s Office, which was used to boost their clients’ content. This exercise challenged students to manage an advertising budget and demonstrated the impact of paid versus organic content on social media.

“Clients met with their assigned teams to share their goals and give students a starting point on the project,” said Riley Haldrup, social media manager for the College of Business, one of participating organizations.

Based on that feedback, students reviewed each client’s social media presence and created plans aimed at achieving their stated goals. Other participating companies or organizations included: Clemson’s eSports Club, Class of ’56 Academic Success Center, Community Foundation of Greater Clemson, Clemson Athletics, Clemson Alumni Association, Fort Hill Clemson Club, The Abernathy, Tiger Golf Gathering Foundation, Clemson Visual Arts, McCall Farms, Margaret Holmes Brand, Tiger Band, Clemson Military and Veteran Engagement Division, Alpha Phi Omega – Annual Blood Bowl, Apex Tool Group, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences Alumni Board.

Tori White, manager of outreach and promotion for the Academic Success Center, was complimentary of students’ efforts and said her organization will continue to utilize their ideas in the spring semester.

“We were thankful for the team’s adaptability, communication, initiative and willingness to meet in-person to create content and discuss strategies,” White said. “The team proposed attainable goals and relatable ideas and went above and beyond their three required social media posts. Their overall performance was fantastic.”

“For the College of Business, students gave an overview of the higher education audience and identified demographics on each of our platforms,” Haldrup added. “Students researched industry trends for each of their clients and compared their social media approach to competitors. It was a comprehensive look at each organization’s social media presence that was replete with data supporting the recommended action plans.”

James Turner, a junior marketing major from Charleston, said one of his biggest takeaways from the class was the team project.

“As part of our project working with a business, after we audited their current social media presence, a plan was created that we pitched to the clients,” said James, whose team worked with a local hospitality industry business, The Abernathy. “It was a great example of real-world experience in learning about running a client’s social media platforms. We were charged with creating a blueprint for postings, then we tweaked them in response to what our clients desired.”

Gary Cohen, general manager of The Abernathy, said: “The students were very eager, professional and polite. They were completely engaged in their process, goal oriented and thought out their plan to reach their goals as efficiently as possible. It was a great experience.”

James said the exercise also opened his eyes to the scope of a business’ social media options in reaching their audiences.

“The team project really gave us a sense of how much back-end work goes into running a company’s social media platforms. One of the most enlightening parts of the class was learning what vast amounts of data our clients have on their users, then learning how to use that data to accomplish each company’s goals as a social media marketer.”

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